WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It's been almost three months since I moved to Wilmington and took a job with WECT's digital team.
In that time, I've happily embraced many things about the Port City, but covering the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club has given me perhaps my most revealing look at Wilmingtonians to date.
Here are a few things I've learned this week:
- If you ever get a chance to walk through a crowd with WECT's Frances Weller and Jon Evans, you must do it. I had the pleasure of strolling onto the Eagle Point grounds with Weller and Evans on Wednesday and each of them stopped repeatedly to chat with people who called out their names. Jon and Fran took several selfies with folks who lined the area around the driving range, practice green and Tee-Ki Bar and as cool as I found each of their interactions with WECT viewers, the good vibe run-off that came my way just as rewarding. Plus, you never have to worry about getting tired walking with Weller and Evans because you won't go very far without stopping after one or both of them gets recognized. It was a perfect way to start my Wells Fargo experience.
- On Saturday morning around 7:45, I was heading out to the course to watch some of the groups who were finishing their second rounds and a question popped into head: How soon will I see someone drinking an adult beverage this morning? The answer was 8:10 a.m. Two men were walking along the No. 1 fairway with LandShark beers in their hands, but they weren't alone. They were just the first two morning drinkers I saw. Plenty more followed, leading me to believe two of my long-held premises are true: 1. Fans at golf tournaments treat time as an abstract concept, and 2. People in Wilmington love getting the party started early.
- The food provided for the media at the Wells Fargo event was incredible. This is the fourth or fifth golf tournament I've covered, including two US Opens at Pinehurst, and the meals I've had at all of them were always better than anything I cook at home. We had braised short ribs for lunch on Saturday. The only other time I can remember having braised short ribs was a friend's fancy wedding, but you know how many of the world's best golfers I watched play at that wedding? Zero. Minutes after finishing that amazing lunch, I followed the Dustin Johnson-Adam Scott-Shane Lowry group for four holes. Advantage, Wilmington.
- Even with the early drinking, golf fans are usually a pretty polite lot, and Wells Fargo security director Jerry Sennett told me that in his 14 years with the tournament, only 10 arrests haves been made. I found out firsthand that people at Eagle Point this are nice even when they're pointing out your physical limitations. While watching players practice on the driving range early Saturday morning, I was occasionally raising up on my tiptoes to get a marginally better look at fan favorite Phil Mickelson. A man blocking my sight line saw me craning my neck for an improved view and said, "Take my spot, man. I'm taller than you." I did, and he was. Thanks, tall guy.